I’ve been praying for something for a long time. It’s probably been thirty years or so, give or take a few. Honestly, it’s been such a long time, I’ve often given up.
But once in awhile something stirs the ache, and I find myself praying the same petition again even though I’ve even prayed for God to take this desire away. I just want to be content where He has me. (Can you relate?)
However, it does bring me comfort to know my unanswered prayer is nothing new. Long, waiting petitions fill the pages of the Bible from beginning to end. Biblical character after character experience waiting on God to fulfill a prayer. One of those people resides in the Christmas story. Her role, often overlooked, I hold close to my heart as one of my favorites. Her name was Elizabeth.
Elizabeth Prayed for a Very Long Time
Luke tells the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, two very old, righteous, yet childless people. There’s no doubt in my mind that Elizabeth prayed for a long time for a baby, but month after month, year after year, no baby grew in her womb.
Yet when there was no hope, God answered that prayer. Gabriel informed Zechariah of this miracle.
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.Luke 1: 11-13
Your Prayer Has Been Heard
Gabriel proclaimed God heard Zechariah’s prayer. When Jewish people spoke of God “hearing” their prayer, they meant that God acted on it. “Hearing” had nothing to do with the ear but rather His active hand.
Elizabeth and Zechariah’s heart prayer, their ache, would soon be fulfilled. Not only that, but Elizabeth would be the sign for Mary.
God’s Timing is Perfect
Oh me friends, I can relate to the anguish of waiting. I know the physical heart throb of unanswered prayers. I don’t like the “wait” word anymore than anyone else. And I hate it when good meaning people say, “His timing is perfect.” Yet, Elizabeth’s story stirs something powerful within me.
You see, Elizabeth’s story is one of miracles. Hers is a portrait of God’s goodness and love. He not only blessed her with a son. The young mother of the Messiah ran to her home. Elizabeth stood as the tangible evidence of God’s truth and grace. She wouldn’t had such a privilege had she given birth any other time.
At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”Luke 1: 39-45
Let the Miracle of Christmas Encourage Your Prayers
Christmas evolves around miracles. The story begins with the miracles of Elizabeth’s and Mary’s pregnancies and ends with the birth of God shivering in the cold, a helpless infant dependent on two very ordinary people.
I confess, though I want to believe in miracles, I haven’t seen many, or at least I’ve not been aware of them in my life, and so my “miracle meter” runs toward the low side.
But lately the word “miracle” has floated through conversations and in books I’m reading, and I’ve felt a nudge from Holy Spirit to pay attention. He’s highlighting the word. I don’t think it’s just for me. I think it’s for you too. Don’t give up on the God of Miracles.
Bite of Bread Reading Plan
It’s the week of Christmas, and some of us will be travelling. Our schedules won’t lend to our normal quiet time, but don’t forget what we’re celebrating. I want to encourage you to intentionally get up early or sneak away from the crowd, open the Miracle-filled Word of God and let it soak into your soul.
I’m doing something a little different this week. No printable or prompts. Just a plan of the Christmas story divided into bite size chunks.
What Miracle Do You Need?
I called a friend the other day. As she tried to comfort me and ask questions to clarify my tears, I struggled to find the words. Honestly, it was a moment of self-pity and frustration, but sometimes you just need to make those confessions so God can work.
She acknowledged my pain, and then she began to pray. I cried some more and then I interrupted her prayer, “I need to go for a walk.”
“Okay,” her voice wavered. “Call me when you get back.”
But I didn’t need to call because by the time I got back, God had begun a miracle in my heart. The sadness dissipated and an excitement began to replace my confusion. Life had not changed, but my heart had.
Let the focus of Miracles this week encourage your hope and strengthen your prayers. If you’re struggling with an unanswered prayer try what helped me:
- Confess your frustration and hurt to a friend.
- Pray together.
- Go for a walk.
I’m praying for you. Our prayers have no expiration date. Emmanuel is here, and He hears your prayers perfectly. Don’t give up.